Split Rock lighthouse or the Split Rock Light station as it was historically called, sits upon a huge rock overlooking part of the Great Lakes harbor water transit system. Located along Minnesota’s North shore and constructed between 1909 and 1910, this lighthouse’s sole purpose was to stand guard and protect steel frigates navigating through the dense fog that often hovers just above the water there.
During the industrial age, Two Harbors and Duluth-Superior sat next to a massive iron mountain range. The iron deposits in the mountains played a vital role in enabling America to compete and successfully become a world steel magnate. Unfortunately, the routes that ships transporting the ore faced were rocky bottoms and narrow passage ways and often dangerous to navigate. Weather changes added to the many threats shipmen faced daily transporting the ore.
In 1905, a devastating storm blew through the harbor corridor, overturning a helpless barge, the Madeira. The storm was so strong and violent it caused it’s tow ship, William Edenborn’s line to snap. Loss of life and the tragic struggle of the crews on both vessels witnessed by onlookers ashore, encouraged the lobbying of Congress for the Split Rock Lighthouse to be built. Support for new, safer measures and laws were needed due to the poor visibility by the ships of the far away shore that made navigation treacherous.
In 1907 funding poured in, granted by congress, for the building of the lighthouse. Support for the funding was provided by documentation of past accidents by the Lake Carrier Association.
This lighthouse has seen many repairs and renovations on its surrounding property but the building itself is a remarkable piece of architecture soundly built. It has withstood the years and retained its pre 1930’s appeal. It is a great piece of living history to visit. The lighthouse and the grounds it sits upon tell the story as it continues to do its duty standing guard over the harbor to this day.